Brain Cancer

Know your options

Avastin®

(bevacizumab)

Avastin, also known as bevacizumab, is a targeted therapy for the treatment of a number of different cancers. Recurrent glioblastoma (GBM) is a type of brain cancer that has come back after initial treatment.  For patients with this type of brain cancer, Avastin is given alone.

Avastin is not currently funded by PHARMAC for the treatment of GBM.  This means you will need to pay for the medicine yourself.

Ask your doctor if Avastin is right for you.

How Avastin Works

Avastin is not a cure for brain cancer. In a clinical study, the majority of patients who were receiving steroids, (a type of medicine to reduce swelling and pressure in the brain) were able to reduce their steroid dosage over time while receiving Avastin.

Avastin works by blocking an important growth factor called vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF. This disrupts blood flow to the cancer, restricting the supply of nutrients that it needs to grow and spread.

To learn about Avastin, download the Avastin patient booklet by clicking here.

Possible side effects of Avastin

Everyone reacts differently to Avastin, so it’s important to know what the side effects are. Some people may have serious side effects – however, most do not.

For more information on the potential side effects with Avastin treatment, download the Avastin Consumer Medicine Information here.

How to access Avastin

Avastin is not funded by PHARMAC for the treatment of GBM. This means that you will need to pay for the medicine yourself.

If you have health insurance, carefully check what is covered – every health insurance provider has different rules and benefits that cover cancer treatment, surgery, tests and appointments.

Roche has created a Cost Share Programme which offers assistance with the cost of the medicine. The Avastin Cost Share Programme caps the cost of the medicine after a number of doses or cost. Once a patient reaches the cap, Roche will provide ongoing Avastin at no cost. However, other costs (such as doctor fees and administration costs) will still apply.

Ask your doctor if Avastin is right for you and how the Cost Share Programme could make it more affordable for you.

Ready to take the next step?

As every situation is different, it’s important to speak to your doctor to find out if Avastin is right for you.

We’ve put together a discussion guide to help you begin a conversation with your doctor. Print it off, take it along to your next appointment, and take notes in the spaces provided.

Talking to your doctor about Avastin

For further information about private treatment providers click here.

You can also talk to your current doctor about referral to a private doctor or treatment centre.

Handy resources

Avastin® (bevacizumab), 100 mg/4mL and 400 mg/16 mL vials, is a Prescription Medicine used to treat metastatic (spreading) colorectal, kidney, breast, brain, lung, ovarian and cervical cancers.

Do not use Avastin if: you have had an allergic reaction to Avastin, any of its ingredients or other antibodies, or if you have been coughing or spitting up blood.

Tell your doctor if: you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or plan to become pregnant or breast-feed; you have any other health problems, especially the following: inflammation of the bowel or stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, a history of blood clots or stroke, bleeding problems, bleeding in the lungs or coughing or spitting up blood, low white blood cell counts, you have/ had a fistula, or have a history of diabetes; you have had major surgery in the last 28 days or a wound that has not healed properly; you have had a blocked lung artery (pulmonary embolism); you have heart disease; you have received anthracyclines (e.g. doxorubicin) for cancer, or radiotherapy to your chest; you are 65 years of age or older, or you are taking any other medicines.

Side Effects: Avastin may worsen some chemotherapy side effects when used in combination with chemotherapy agents, including hair loss, nail disorders, pain, redness and/or swelling of your hands and/or soles of your feet, and a feeling of numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.

Tell your doctor immediately or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Centre if you notice any of the following: severe body or stomach pain or cramps; severe headache; severe diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting; loss of control of your bladder or bowels; passage of wind or bowel motions through the vagina; coughing or spitting up blood; pain, redness, swelling and warmth over a vein which may suggest blood clots; pain and/or swelling in the lower legs, feet or hands; severe bleeding or problems with your wounds healing after surgery; seizures; confusion; sleepiness/drowsiness or fainting; abscesses (pus-filled sores); severe infection with high fever, chills, headache, confusion and rapid breathing; feeling of numbness or tingling in feet or hands; dry mouth with thirst and/or darkened urine; increased heart rate; shortness of breath; symptoms of an allergic reaction which may include shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body, or rash, itching or hives on the skin.

Possible common side-effects may also include: high blood pressure (symptoms include, headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears, tiredness, blurred vision); body pain, tiredness/ weakness; diarrhoea, constipation or rectal bleeding; sore mouth or mouth ulcers; loss of appetite, being thirsty; shortness of breath; runny, blocked or bleeding nose; dry, scaling or inflamed skin, change in skin colour; taste changes; blurred vision or other eye problems; dizziness; headache; frequent infections with symptoms such as fever, chills or sore throat; changes in your voice or difficulty speaking; loss of body weight;  abdominal, pelvic, rectal or back pain.

Avastin has risks and benefits. Ask your oncologist if Avastin is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. For further information on Avastin, please talk to your health professional or visit www.medsafe.govt.nz for Avastin Consumer Medicine Information.

Avastin is not funded by PHARMAC. You will need to pay the full cost of this medicine. A prescription charge and normal oncologist fees may apply.

Consumer panel dated 14.04.2019